Joan Burton declines New York parade invite over LGBT ban
Social Protection Minister refused to say whether Taoiseach Enda Kenny should also refuse invitation
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton will turn down her invitation to attend New York's St Patrick's Day parade over its ban on posters and banners promoting gay rights or causes.
Minister Burton will be in New York on St Patrick's Day along with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who will be taking part in the famous procession.
"It's a great, fun day, but to me it needs to be inclusive of the whole Irish cultural experience and the whole width and breadth and diversity of Irish people and descendants of Irish people who have gone to the United States," she said.
Ms Burton attended the festival two years ago and met members of the LGBT community, who felt at the time that change was coming.
"My understanding then was that there was quite a positive feeling and that some change was in the air. Hopefully, that is actually going to come to pass.
"I think it's such a great parade. Like the new mayor of New York has said, it should be for everyone. So I won't be going to the parade until it is more fully inclusive of all the different Irish experiences."
Ms Burton would not say what she thought of the Taoiseach taking part in the parade, saying: "The Taoiseach will make his arrangements and I'm sure he will talk to you about those," she said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he plans to boycott the parade because of the exclusion of LGBT groups. He is the first mayor in around 20 years to do so.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said gay rights groups had encouraged the Government to take part in the parade.